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Lowkey Night in Canada: Wings lose to Leafs

4-1 Toronto is your final

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Wings vs. Leafs on a Saturday night. What could go wrong?

First Period

Toronto gets a power play within the first minute as William Nylander takes a dive trying to fight off Moritz Seider in the Wings’ zone. The Leaf’s PP puts on great pressure for the first minute, but Dylan Larkin and Filip Hronek work to get a clear and the 2nd unit finishes off the penalty.

Detroit’s first chance comes as Oskar Sundqvist gets an angle for a shot on Ilya Samsonov that’s kicked to the far side. Filip Hronek takes possession, but can’t get the shot off quickly enough. The teams trade chances from here.

After the first commercial, the Wings fight through sticks to get chances and then take their second penalty on a Toronto rush where Jake Walman gets behind Mitch Marner and hooks him. Off the faceoff, Auston Matthews takes a penalty for tripping Andrew Copp and we go 4-on-4 for a time.

Just after that time ends, Olli Määttä feeds Jake Walman a breakout pass behind the defense and snipes it past Samsonov to make it 1-0 Detroit!

Matthews had just come out of the box, so this one doesn’t count as a power play tally. Detroit’s follow-up shift is very good as well. I like the next few shifts too.

3:06 to go in the first and Oskar Sundqvist doing a good job forechecking draws a call as Mark Giordano heads to the box for David Kampf’s sin. Alex Kerfoot ends the power play 15 seconds early as he gets the puck into the Wings’ zone 1-on-1 vs. Jonatan Berggren and creates a chance that draws Berggren into a penalty (and preventing a net-front cut-in chance). Toronto gets no fewer than three great chances, but are kept off the board at the end of the period.

The Score: 1-0 Detroit
The Shots: 8-2 Detroit
Stuff: I liked Kubalik’s quick shot instincts. Worried about Toronto’s counter-speed. I liked how our forecheckers did a better job moving through the puck. I didn’t like how the refs managed this period..

Second Period

The Wings don’t get the entire remaining penalty killed off before Mitch Marner ties it at 1-1. Rebound off the boards at the back door.

The Wings put up incredible pressure on the Leafs following the Marner goal, but Michael Rasmussen can’t lift a puck over a sprawling Samsonov and a few different shooters go wide of the frame. Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold and the Leafs take the lead. Ben Chiarot is caught on the wrong side of the ice and John Tavares makes it 2-1 Leafs.

Not long after, Magnus Hellberg has to make some absolutely ten-bell saves to keep things from snowballing while the Leafs run the Detroit defense ragged taking advantage of bad decisions under pressure. We go about six minutes without a whistle as things get gradually more frenetic before a merciful offsides gives the team a chance to screw their heads on right.

Coming out of the break, things are at least a little better and also Michael Bunting gets himself sent to the box for retaliating against Ben Chiarot giving him a harmless shot after a whistle. Detroit’s 2nd unit creates all the chances on this one, but nothing doing.

The Wings take another penalty 16:51 into the period as the even-up for earlier. Cross-checking Michael Bunting is apparently illegal. Detroit frees Chiarot from the box with some strong PK work by Seider and Walman.

The Score: 2-1 Leafs
The Shots: 18-14 Detroit (10-12)
Stuff: Rasmussen-Copp-Raymond had some good chemistry forming before things fell apart. Detroit lost their patience during that long stretch and were lucky to not get buried. Ben Chiarot should be told to try to do less.

Third Period

Early in the third, the Wings take yet another penalty with Pius Suter grabbing David Kampf’s stick just outside Magnus Hellberg’s crease. Marner threads a pass to Matthews and a great toe stretch by Hellberg keeps the puck out of the net. 30 seconds later the power play is over thanks to Rasmussen getting position on John Tavares and drawing a tripping penalty.

When the Wings get the advantage, they get one shot from Walman that’s kicked past the slot coverage and cleared. Tavares nearly scores out of the box.

Not much time for the Leafs to wait for that next goal. Toronto works around the edges and Morgan Rielly throws a floater that Pontus Holmberg tips it over the goalie. 3-1 Leafs.

Detroit gets some brief pressure, then Hellberg has to come up large again on a point-blank shot by Kampf.

Time ticks down for the Wings and they go through a frustrating stretch where their game just gets frustratingly sloppy. Passing, forechecking, stickwork, just nothing working right. Fortunately Hellberg isn’t as committed to grab-ass as his teammates.

Wings pull Hellberg with just under three minutes to play. John Tavares hits the goal with 1:39 remaining. 4-1 Leafs. If you want to see that one, go look it up.

The Score: 4-1 Toronto
The Shots: 29-23 Leafs
Stuff: Detroit just wore down.

Conclusion

This one was frustrating. The Wings didn’t play well enough to get a better result, but they didn’t play poorly enough to get the result they got. I’m probably less grumpy about this one if the puck luck and refereeing were different. I don’t think this one is a “huge difference in talent” loss or a “we don’t have finishers” loss. I think those are conclusions that every loss will fit into, but really it’s the talent the Wings have not bearing down.

I’m not willing to make a fundamental attribution based on this. Third game in four nights against a team that actually does have more talent and is still embarrassed about their last two games. It would have been fun to twist a knife in a team with higher expectations than we have.

Wings welcome the Jets and Sam Gagner to town on Tuesday.